How to Get Out the Door and Arrive on Time
I hate being late. For anything. A party, an appointment, a TV show, class. (Don’t even get me started on how to switch classrooms, use the bathroom, and prep my new classroom for class all in 7 minutes.) I love being on time and always have. My husband knows that fastest way to ramp up my anxiety is to be late.
What’s the problem with being late? It has effects on not only you, but the other people around you. If you are late, you can miss part of a class, directions from your boss, updates, time with the doctor, or you may have to reschedule for another day.
But your lateness affects others, too. Professionals schedule appointments at a particular time for a reason – they have other clients or customers they will see later. Your tardiness messes up their schedule. If you arrive late for a class, you’re a distraction to the instructor and other students.
And let’s not forget about work! If you work shifts, your tardiness often means that someone else has to work late or cover for you. That’s not cool for your co-workers. And repeated tardiness can (and will) get you fired.
When you’re constantly late, you send a message that “This is not important to me.” Maybe it’s not, but it’s important to the other people there. Be respectful of everyone else’s time.
Ways to Get Out the Door on Time
Know Your Schedule
To get out the door on time, you need to know what you already have scheduled. The best way to keep track of commitments is in a planner. There are a ton of different types – you just have to pick one that works for you and use it every.single.day. (Psst- this is my personal fav!)
When you know your commitments, you don’t get surprised. Instead, you can plan ahead of time.
You need to know how long travel or other commitments will take. You also need to consider ALL the steps in the process.
Let’s say that I need to be at class 8 AM. OK, it takes 15 minutes to get to school, 5 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the classroom. Oh wait, I need to run to the bathroom before class, so add 5 more minutes. That means that I need to leave my house no later than 7:35.
In the beginning, write these steps down and an estimated time. Then start paying attention to how long the steps actually take.
If I’m driving somewhere new, I check how long the drive will take on Google Maps. Bonus points to check during the same time of day you will be driving. (20 minutes without traffic, but 35 with traffic!)
If possible, I like to leave a small buffer just in case. It’s usually just 5-10 minutes, but that buffer has saved my butt a number of times. Sometimes I forget to wake up on time, there is traffic, the weather slows things down, or the universe is just against me.
What happens if I don’t need the buffer? I get to my destination a few minutes early. If I don’t want to go in that early, I sit in my car and listen to the radio.
Set up reminders on your phone! Your phone may already be your alarm clock – it can remind you about other steps as well. There is also a feature in Google Maps to remind you when to leave.
The low tech solution is a watch and sticky notes. Put reminders, along with times, all the places you normally look in the morning. Your bathroom mirror or the fridge tend to be the best places. Many watches, even the cheap ones, have alarms built in. Set an alarm for when you need to leave the house.
Prepare Ahead of Time
This step saves me all the time. I try to prepare for leaving my house as early as possible. That way if things go south, I can just grab my stuff and go.
If I am leaving in the morning and have to bring a bag, I pack it the night before. Create a “drop zone” in your house where you put everything you need for the next morning. No more scrambling to find your lunch and the keys and your gym bag and those sunglasses before leaving!
I also pick out clothes the night before as well. I usually just make this a mental practice, but sometimes I will move the clothes to a more accessible spot in my closet.
Limit Phone Use
While useful, cell phones are a MAJOR distraction, especially when you need to be doing other things. I’ve stopped checking social media until much later in the morning. And boy, do my mornings get going a lot faster now.
It’s very easy to get sucked into social media, the news (I’m old), or a game and lose 10-15 minutes. Which now means you are really running late.
Changing old habits is hard, so don’t expect to become On-Time Olivia tomorrow. But stick with it and over time, arriving on time will become second nature.